Years ago I went away to college. I spent a year in Springfield, Missouri attending a small bible college. Annually we had an East/West flag football game. We had practices, we developed strategies, we had jerseys, and the really serious ones had cleats and put black stripes under their eyes.
I remember the night of the game…it was late October and fall was certainly making its presence known. The air was crisp and the fans where all bundled up to keep warm. The players – we stood on the sidelines or on the field in our jersey and sweat pants with the adrenaline keeping us warm.
That year we had several guys from Texas and they dominated the squad I was on. Some of them had played high school football and others like myself played Sunday afternoons with friends. No matter what your skill level, all of us wanted a chance to get in the game. The goal – don’t mess up! Catch the pass; run until the whistle blows; grab the flag if you have an opportunity. All we wanted to do was get into the game and make a play for our team.
Now granted, the sports metaphor may be lost on some of us – especially if you are not athletically inclined but it is relevant to all of us. The high calling of God for every member of the church is to get into the game. Where a baseball team has only 9 positions on the field and a football team can only field 11 players at a time, the church can get as many involved as are willing to play! And that is where the rubber meets the road – your willingness.
The “game” we are playing has eternal consequences. The score is measured in terms of repentant and unrepentant. The plays are called by God and executed by the church. The mission is “nothing but souls to save.” (i.e. John Wesley) The strategy is to give our gifts and talents to play for God’s team. The opponent – the team of sloth, envy, anger, lust, greed, pride, gluttony, worldliness, death, and injustice.
A couple of questions to ask yourself? What team am I playing for? Am I trying to play for both teams – a couple of plays for the opponents team and then a play or two for God’s team? Actually that is where most of us are – trying to play for both teams.
Well God promises each of us life and life more abundant and that is only possible when we commit to one team – God’s team. So how do you make that commitment and get into the game?
We believe that God has given each of us talents that we can use for his glory. While some of them are natural others of them are developed through training and effective use over time. We also believe that God through the Holy Spirit has given each of us spiritual gifts. These are gifts that are needed to lead, care for, and propel the church. They are gifts that help us capture God’s mission and vision; they are gifts that send us forth to fulfill our unique calling as God’s people; they are gifts that ensure community care is given and received as an act of love and grace from all of us. Specifically, it looks like this:
1) Take the spiritual gifts assessment – Tricia DeCamp (firstname.lastname@example.org) can connect you with the version that we utilize
2) Assess your natural talents and gifts – write them down on a piece of paper
3) Look at our unique vision – to foster new and growing relationships with God and others through worship, learning, service and witness.
4) Look for the intersection between your talents and spiritual gifts and North Star’s vision – that is where you can get into the game!
5) Answer the question – is this something that I can lead or is this something that I need to be a role player (a follower)?
6) Take the steps to get off the sidelines and into the game! Don’t wait for someone to ask you; don’t look for the someone to call your name; God doesn’t have time to check and see if you are ready to play. Take the initiative because God is already calling “your number.”
Mid to late November the leadership team will be finishing and announcing our strategic objectives for next year. Shortly after the first of the year we will add-on the objectives for 2014 and 2015. Then annually we will forecast three years out and continue to add-on to the strategic plan so that we have an ongoing three-year vision of the future.
The only way we will be successful in meeting and exceeding God’s vision for North Star is by getting all of us in the game. 20% can’t do it; the staff alone can’t carry us over the goal line. It will take total commitment by 100% of us!
So what is your position on the team? I hope it isn’t riding the pines; sitting on the sidelines. We certainly won’t play well if we are vacillating between teams (God’s and the world’s). Be a player – get in the game! Help us be a vital part of God’s winning team!
What is keeping you out of the game?